To Do List

Live more.
Laugh more.
Have more sex.
Explode orgasmic mind juice
into active imagination.

Make necklaces
of fiery L.A. sunsets,
ones you can
give away
at freeway exit ramps,
Skid Row,
or battered women’s shelters.

Write more.
Sing more.
Play more guitar.

Leave all
mental & metaphysical doors
wide open.
Allow poetic muses
to pay unannounced visits
at all hours;
even if
they show up drunk
or with muddy feet.

Exercise more.
Walk the dog more.
Adopt dog logic—
where everything
is pure instinct,
pure expression.

Clean out your closet.
Give away
what you don’t need.
Give away
what you think you need.

what you think you need.

your darkest thoughts
baby blue.
The rest:
a blazing
Van Gogh yellow.

Breathe more.
Meditate more.
Cultivate a flower mind.

Let your tongue
be wick.
Burn words brightly.

Plug into positivity.
Power the city
of your highest beliefs.

Drink more water.
Eat more fruits
and vegetables.

Don’t lie.
Don’t cheat.
Don’t be deceitful.

don’t be an asshole.

And remember:

All the sins
your father
passed along to you,
don’t accept them
as your own.
donate them
to Buffalo Exchange
to be resold
as edgy
fashion accessories.

Spend more time
in nature.
to birds, trees.
Be the tree.
Imagine that kind
of stillness,
and patience.
stillness and patience.

Gradually grow
toward the sun.

Brush your teeth
at least
twice a day.
chew your food
with your mouth open.

Don’t condemn.
Don’t kill.

Don’t approach this life
as war.
Don’t go numb,
don’t hate.
Don’t shoot
your neighbor dead
with a word, a glance.
And if you need
to carry a bomb,
let it be filled
with grace & generosity.

Explode color.
Explode beauty.
Explode joy.

Be a bliss terrorist.

Get more sleep.
Get more informed.
Learn to be
your own best friend.
Learn to be happy
with what you have,
and don’t have.

Especially with
what you don’t have.

Trade in
all your sad goodbyes
for newly reconditioned

a peace conference
where black cats
and four-leaf clovers
can reach
an amicable middle ground.

Develop a binding theory
of compatibility.

Know that love
doesn’t trap you,
it sets you free.

Don’t waste water.
Don’t waste your time.
Don’t waste
other people’s time.

Never mistake
for annihilation
or submission.

your inner light,
living light.
build mausoleums
behind your eyes.

your parents
more letters
to friends—
through U.S. Mail,
not email.

Clean out
the junk mail
from your
email inbox.

Greet each day
with a smile.

Make your
eyebrows kazoos;
teeth, keyboards;
chin, a bass drum;
so that when you laugh
you’re a one-man band.

And finally,
build yourself
a Louis Armstrong gun.
Its ammo:
soulful vocals,
and trumpet wails.
Every shot—

the sounds
of a wonderful world.

RICH FERGUSON has performed nationally, and has shared the stage with Patti Smith, Wanda Coleman, Exene Cervenka, T.C. Boyle, Jerry Stahl, Bob Holman, Loudon Wainwright, Ozomatli, and many other esteemed poets and musicians. He has performed on The Tonight Show, at the Redcat Theater in Disney Hall, the New York City International Fringe Festival, the Bowery Poetry Club, South by Southwest, the Santa Cruz Poetry Festival, Stephen Elliott’s Rumpus, and with UK-based poetry collective One Taste. He is also a featured performer in the film, What About Me? (the sequel to the double Grammy-nominated film 1 Giant Leap), featuring Michael Stipe, Michael Franti, k.d. lang, Krishna Das, and others. He has been published in the LA TIMES, Opium Magazine, has been widely anthologized, spotlighted on PBS (Egg: The Art Show), and was a winner in Opium Magazine’s Literary Death Match, LA. His spoken word/music videos have been featured at poetry film festivals throughout the world. Ferguson is a Pushcart-nominated poet, and a poetry editor at The Nervous Breakdown. His poetry collection 8th & Agony has been published by L.A.’s Punk Hostage Press.

3 responses to “To-Do List”

  1. Jeffro says:

    Rich strikes again! Every line a line to live by.

    • Thanks for reading, brother. It’s been too long since we’ve crossed paths. Hope you’ve been well.

      • Jeffro says:

        Anytime and every time. I always have to swing by when you post something. I’m well here in VA. I keep impregnating my wife — just had our second, a son: Henry. We decided sleep was overrated.

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